Hong Kong's sudden rush to book flights jams airlines' websites

4 days ago 25

HONG KONG - Cathay Pacific Airways' website and that of its low-cost unit buckled under a rush of flight searches Friday, as the Hong Kong government announced that mandatory quarantine and other pandemic travel restrictions will be scrapped next week.

"We are currently experiencing high traffic on our website," Cathay said. "We have set up a virtual waiting room to better manage customer traffic to our site. You are in a queue at the moment, but you'll be put through soon."

The airline advised visitors to keep the web page open, telling them they would have 30 minutes to book a ticket after entering the site.

Earlier Friday, Cathay's budget unit HK Express was also inundated with flight searches as wannabe travellers rushed to take advantage of the easing of pandemic travel restrictions across parts of Asia.

"Our website is busy due to the high traffic, which may cause longer time in flight search, booking or receiving itinerary e-mails," HK Express said in a pop-up message on the site.

A spokeswoman for the airline said the notice was posted after Japan announced it would abolish Covid-19 border controls.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters in New York on Thursday that Japan will end its cap on daily arrivals and allow tourists to enter without visas from Oct 11.

Japan is typically HK Express' biggest market. Pre-pandemic, the carrier served 14 airports across the country.

In addition to ending hotel quarantine, Hong Kong will do away with the requirement for a pre-flight PCR test. Travellers will be allowed to go home or to their hotel after arrival, but they will be banned from venues such as bars and restaurants for three days. BLOOMBERG

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